An interesting hit job on WALL*E by the New Republic‘s Ben Crair, dated 7.14. The slant is indicated in this graph: “WALL-E‘s conservative critics are right to identify a problem with its message. Unfortunately, they’ve misdiagnosed it. There’s nothing wrong with the film’s anti-corporatism, which is just a variation of the anti-totalitarianism that’s requisite to the genre. More troublesome is the film’s complicity in the commodified culture it ostensibly critiques. This isn’t about Disney, whose external merchandise and marketing are extraneous to the film’s artistic vision. Within the movie itself, WALL*E betrays its true corporate overlord, and it isn’t Mickey. It’s Apple.”
I’m not going to re-phrase or condense this article in any way. It’s too dense and well-sculpted for me to attempt that. Just read it.
For those who haven’t seen Marina Zenovich‘s Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, it’s playing in New York (at the Quad Cinema on West 13th Street), and will open Friday in Boston and Los Angeles. If you haven’t yet seen this essential and riveting legal drama, here’s another way.
It’s been on HBO, but I first saw it at a theatre in Park City, Utah, last January, and I got a bit more of a jolt from the communal experience (leaning forward in my seat, sensing the concentration of others) than from the HBO viewing that I allowed myself two or three weeks ago. This is a very sharp and absorbing doc that doesn’t miss a trick, and which leaves you filled and fortified. Before seeing anything like this I always go to the club for the treadmill and weights, and then I’ll down a Red Bull and a double cappuccino kicker. Docs always play better when you’re cranked.
I wonder how many of the hellfire-and-brimstone Polanski haters who visit this site have seen it?
Earlier this morning director Rod Lurie (Nothing But The Truth, Resurrecting The Champ) e-mailed some friends with a couple of graduation pics taken at his alma mater, Honolulu’s Punahou High School — himself accepting the big diploma from P.H.S. president Roderick F. McPhee in June 1980, and some clean-cut kid named Barack Obama doing the same a year earlier. 2:05 pm: A link from Politico‘s Ben Smith.
“I don’t want to blow a gasket over this thing because it’s just a good British popcorn film,” I wrote last March 5th about Roger Donaldson‘s The Bank Job. “But entertainments of this sort — tight, tough, well-honed — are few and far between.
“It isn’t a classic drama, but it’s not a whammy-chart action film either. No car chases, no explosions and star Jason Statham only beats up one guy (or is it two?) in the whole thing. But it’s the best crafted and most gripping low-key suspense thriller I’ve seen in ages.” Easily among my favorite ’08 films so far. And out today on DVD.
“When The Last Picture Show came out, in 1971, it was acclaimed not only as the breakout hit of a young gun (the director, Peter Bogdanovich, was still in his early thirties) but also as a dusty remembrance of things past,” writes New Yorker critic Anthony Lane.
“The movie was set twenty years before, in a small Texas town, where even the young folk — played to perfection by Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Timothy Bottoms and others — bore the look of natural-born elegists, and where the quest for sexual services (led by Cloris Leachman, as the wife of a sports coach) seemed less a matter of lust, let alone joy, than a desperate bid to delay the dying falls of love.
“Nowadays, we are the nostalgists, and it is Bogdanovich’s film (which the director David Gordon Green selected for a July 20 screening at BAM) that asks to be treasured as the product — indeed, the standard-bearer — of a faded age. There was a time when movies themselves felt like small towns: rooted fast in their environments, and alive to the wistful chatter of minor characters as they crossed paths and then went on their way.”
And the most small-towny moment in the entire film was Ben Johnson‘s soliloquy about change and “gettin’ old” and a love affair he had about 20 years back with a girl, and a silver dollar she probably still has.
“You wouldn’t believe how this country’s changed. First time I seen it there wasn’t a mesquite tree on it. First time I watered a horse at this tank was more than 40 years ago. I’m probably just as sentimental as the next fella when it comes to old times.”
Today’s hit films are having shorter runs in theatres than they did 20 and 25 years ago, says this 7.14 Gregg Kilday piece in the Hollywood Reporter. I had suspected as much before reading it. The burn rate on everything is faster today than it was during the Reagan-Bush era.
The most interesting portion of Kilday’s article notes that while Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lasted in theatres for eight and seven weeks respectively — the ’08 summer’s two longest runs so far — 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom spent 12 weeks in the top 10, and ’89’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade spent 10 weeks in the top 10.
“Today, eight weeks in the top 10 — which generally requires that a movie is playing in at least 1,000 locations — is a significant achievement,” writes Kilday.
In the good old days of the mid to late ’80s computers were using Flintstones-level technology and IBM Selectrics were the writing device of choice. The interactive darting-eye video-game aesthetic was in its nascent stages. Attention spans were probably longer back then, and the across-the-board instant gratification principle hadn’t yet taken over. Some GenXers were in their early 20s, but most were in their teens. GenYers were toddlers and tweeners and GenD kidz — those born in the early ’90s and later, easily the fastest-information-processing generation of all — hadn’t been conceived.
So yes, it was a somewhat slower, almost entirely analog world back then, and so, yeah, of course, hit movies tended to hang around longer.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the general pattern for the average super-hit movie of 2020 will be five or six weeks and out. I wouldn’t be surprised if all movies, big and small, were to open everywhere in all media simultaneously. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have no DVD or Blu-ray retail stores whatsoever by 2020 — and it’ll be a profoundly sad thing when this happens, whether it’s five or ten years from now. Stop what you’re doing and shed a tear for the future of the DVD and Blu-ray community of movie lovers worldwide.
Because images are everything and because many people out there (i.e., “low information voters”) can’t be bothered to read articles or photo captions or process anything at all except in terms of their gut, Barack Obama loses because of the New Yorker cover. We are a nation of fourth-graders. This, in any event, is the view of Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter, a fair-minded guy who (to judge by his “Countdown” appearances) is some kind of Obama admirer, or at least not with the dissers.